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240 examples of how other families live. I’m looking at you World Geo teachers.

We’re always looking for ways to help kids see the big picture. To compare and contrast. Find differences and similarities. To break down stereotypes. Dollar Street and Gapminder can help.

Gapminder is a Swedish foundation that describes itself as a fact tank, not a think tank. It uses data to tell stories. Stories that can help us better understand the world we all live in. By using data visualization tools and photos, Gapminder can help your students explore vast amounts of global statistics.

They’ve got handy downloads and teacher resources. Check those out. But then head over to their new interactive tool called Dollar Street.

Imagine the world as a street. All the houses are lined up by income, the poor living to the left and the rich to the right. Everybody else somewhere in between. Where on the street do you live? How is your life the same and different than your neighbors from other parts of the world who share the same income level? With different income levels?

Dollar Street highlights 240 homes from around the world in a easy to use, searchable, visual database that gives you the tools to take students around the world. If you’ve ever used the excellent books – Material World: A Global Family Portrait or Hungry Planet: What the World Eats you’ve got a mental image of what Dollar Street looks like.

Tons of photos. Information about families. The ability to see how others around the world live and survive.

You start with a broad view – all the families, all the countries:

Clicking on any family portrait pops open a page with links to that specific family and other families in that country and region. Click Visit This Family to dig deeper into that family or All Families.

Once you’re in a family’s page, you get a brief description of their lives and home as well as dozens of photos.

But you can also be more specific by using the filters across the top of Dollar Street. Search by specifics such as Homes, Pets, Backyards, or Most Loved Item.

You can also filter by country. So . . . you have the ability to search for Pets just in the US or Pets in the US and China. Or Backyards in all of the Asian countries. Or . . . you get the idea.

There aren’t specific lesson plans connected with Dollar Street. But this seems a collection of resources that can be adapted into a variety of activities such as these photo analysis activities from @WorldGeoChat or this National Geographic lesson on using images to tell stories.

Perhaps you could use Google My Maps or Google Tour Builder to create a more user-friendly version of family locations described in Dollar Street. Or connect with another school to generate a more local Street. Or use the photos as story starters. Maybe combine Dollar Street data with CIA Country Factbook info and develop picture books like Material World. Connect current events with places around the world found in Dollar Street. Use the photographs to help kids practice their primary source document analysis skills.

(One cautionary note. One picture or five or 10 can never tell the full story. So be sure to work with students in helping them to understand that while Dollar Street can help us see and understand others around the world, it is telling just a small part of the larger story.)

I think the possibilities with Dollar Street seem fairly endless but I’m curious – how would you use this?

Need another jump start? Check out the National Council for the Social Studies C3 Framework > Geography section:

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